Never on a Sunday
The end of a suburban football competition...
THE famous WA Sunday Football League is finished. The SFL can trace its history back to 1909 with the formation of the South Suburban Football Association, in 1960 it became the South Suburban Murray Football Association and the Sunday Football League name came into being in 1984.
Cracks began to appear in recent years with the competition reduced to seven clubs in 2008 with some of them unable to field colts teams. The situation worsened in December when Thornlie opted to join the WA Amateur Football League. At its most recent meeting the SFL board decided it could not go on.
Last season's premiers Gosnells will join the WAAFL for 2009 as will Maddington, Kelmscott, Canning and Kenwick, the club that has dominated the SFL over the past decade. Armadale is moving to the Peel Football League.
Many household footy names have been associated with the SFL – right up to the very end. Last year's coaches included Wayne Blackwell (Maddington) and Winston Abraham (Kelmscott).
In 1949 and 1950 Kenwick's premiership team contained two youngsters from Sister Kate's – Graham "Polly" Farmer and Ted Kilmurray. Just to show that history does repeat, Kenwick joined the Amateurs in 1951 and Farmer and Kilmurrary joined Maddington where they played in a premiership in 1952. Farmer went on to be one of the legends of the game and Kilmurrary played 257 games for East Perth and won the Sandover Medal in 1958.
In the mid-1970s the competition had some its best years. Channel Seven commentator Dennis Cometti coached Maddington to a hat-trick of premierships from 1974 to 1976 and took Kelmscott to the flag in 1979.
Current Geelong CEO Brian Cook is another who might be reflecting on the news of the end of the SFL, he won the Bowden Medal as the competition's best player in 1983 when playing for Rockingham. Other names on the list of Bowden Medal winners include Subiaco great Cam Blakemore (with Kalamunda) in 1973; South Fremantle premiership player Gary Greer (Armadale) 1976; former Richmond player Bruce Tschipig (Kelmscott) 1979; current East Perth coach Tony Micale (Kwinana) 1980; and Gary Smallridge (Gosnells), who went on to play interstate football for WA and SA, 1989.
The inaugural Fremantle squad contained two SFL products Winston Abraham (Thornlie) and Daniel Bandy (Kelmscott). Current star Roger Hayden played for Gosnells in the 1999 SFL grand final after being rejected by WAFL clubs East Fremantle and Perth.
In 2007 former Eagles champion Peter Matera played a few games for Armadale to help out the coach, his brother Wally.
The demise of the SFL is a sad event but not one for the footy doomsayers – the clubs have survived, the game will go on.
The point is, it seems, that suburban footy players in WA don't want to play on Sundays.
Photo: Dennis Cometti during his time as coach of Maddington.